Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Unplanned Travel Detours: Vietnam Edition

As I'm sure I've mentioned, I'm a planner. I like the idea of being totally spontaneous and doing away with routes, itineraries and travel guides, but ultimately, at my core, I need a plan or at least a semblance of one in order to feel comfortable. But that doesn't mean plans don't change, or that every trip taken isn't without its surprises.
Ho Chi Minh City

Hey, let's fly to Vietnam for 10 days
February and March of this year were spent mostly in Malaysia and Singapore with a three night bonus-stopover in Hong Kong on the way home. But somewhere along the line, around mid-February we decided to add Vietnam into the mix. We were in Malaysia during Chinese New Year, which meant a lot of hotels, buses, ferries, etc. were booked up well in advance. We were struggling to find decent rooms and transportation when we wanted it. So we were feeling a little stuck and. The fix: Leave Malaysia and try a new country on for size.

We had 10 days to play with before meeting some friends in Kuala Lumpur so we decided to spend them in Vietnam. It was unexpected, it was spontaneous and it was something we would never do in "real life" but while traveling, the decision was made within an hour over a beer in cafe in Penang.
Saigon green beer

Spontaneity can be fun
At home, I like my routine. I'm not adverse to last-minute plans but if I already have my comfy pants on, you better have tickets to something good (or be offering free booze) to get me out of the house. So you can see how a totally random side trip to a country not on our original itinerary would be a bit outside my comfort zone. We did this last year with a side trip to Cambodia and it was a great decision, but I really didn't anticipate any similar moves this time around. The verdict: It was an amazing 10 days spent in Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne and Dalat (full post on these coming soon). We couldn't get enough and were actually sad to leave at the end of it all.

The lesson for me in all this is that there is a place for spontaneity and last-minute switches to plans and "hey, let's go here" moments when you travel. If fact, I bet some people would say travel is all about those unexpected changes to plans (or better yet, not planning at all).

How spontaneous are you when you travel? I've love to know!

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